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Zoo pavilion project gets go-ahead

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After three years, the New York State Zoo at Thompson Park finally will have its pavilion, and the defunct aviary will be gone.

By a 4-1 vote, the Watertown City Council awarded a $255,372.53 contract to DEW Builders, Adams, to construct a pavilion in the aviary’s place. Councilwoman Teresa R. Macaluso voted against it.

The project has gone through a series of changes since zoo officials first requested an outdoor pavilion be built in 2009. The changes frustrated both city and zoo officials over the years.

After the vote, a relieved Mayor Jeffrey E. Graham sighed, “Monkey off the back, right?”

He was “pleased” bids came in lower than the projected $435,000. The other six base bids ranged from $253,657 to $479,700.

Council members agreed to include two alternatives, a cedar shake roof at a cost of $17,571.96 and stone veneer columns that will cost $9,180. They concurred on adding the cedar shake roof only after Zoo Executive Director John T. Wright contended that a planned metal roof would be noisy when it rained.

Council members initially were going to keep the roof out and, instead, add decorative stamped concrete slabs in the project.

The contractor will tear down the aviary and supply the city with a pre-engineered, 50-by-50-foot cross-shaped metal pavilion. The pavilion will be similar to the one installed last year at the J.B. Wise parking lot north of Public Square.

Construction is slated for early spring. The zoo project will include landscaping and an audiovisual system and a wall to accommodate that system. It will be used for events such as classes, presentations and private parties.

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